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"Taking a Swing at Weight Loss - Update #9" 

16 August 2001

Greetings To My Loved Ones, My Friends and Anyone Else Who Cares!
Lots of love and enthusiasm coming to ya from Cleveland, Ohio!

These two week chunks of time seem to be passing ever so quickly.  Can't believe its time to share my update again.  Hope this report is an encouragement to you and I pray you can read it while at peace and with contentment in your heart.  Those would be the prevailing conditions I am currently experiencing as this journey has allowed me the honor of putting my life's gear in neutral while soaking it all in.  I have enjoyed smelling a few roses along the way but oh the joy to lay down and roll around in the garden for a year!

Here are the updated statistics:  I have now lost 141 pounds and only have 96 pounds to go before reaching my target weight of 230 pounds.  As there is a transition re-feeding phase to this diet that slowly allows for regular food consumption, I am about 76 pounds away from having something besides the shakes I am exclusively drinking currently.  Praise God for the safety, energy and health He has blessed me with thus far during this time of severe caloric restriction.  I figure if things continue going as planned, I may be able to throw in some turkey bits into one of my vanilla shakes for a thanksgiving treat!  Smile. Actually, Thanksgiving is about the time that I plan to transition back to "normal" food.  Many of you have very appropriately inquired as to what comes next?  Believe it or not, I consider this part of the diet to be much easier than I had expected.  The real challenge in the near future will be maintaining my weight while eating a regular diet no longer limiting myself to the dietary protein I have been on exclusively since April 1st.  God willing, my hope and prayer is not to return to work in any serious capacity until next spring and spend at least 4-5 months over the winter focusing on exercise and developing healthier dietary habits.  It is my intention with the help of a personal trainer and some good friends who are in great shape and cut like Greek statues (you know who you are) to do some weight training and really re-sculpt my body and stabilize at my new weight before jumping back into life's frying pan.  Therein lies the real challenge.  Many have gone through diets of this nature only to quickly regain much if not more than what they lost.  I am so determined to avoid this pitfall.  I have already invested much time in reading, prayer and planning in preparation for this formidable challenge.

I have now traveled through 41 of our glorious country's states while attending 80 Major League Baseball games in 22 of the 30 Ballparks. Major League Baseball, in the blooper highlight video that they have been showing at many of the recent games between innings, have a included a clip of me in my baseball mask and sequence baseball hat.  Its fun leaning over to the person sitting next to me knowing its coming up and telling them thats me!  Have had many fans asking to take pics with me and have a great time joking with the kids who sometimes much to the parents annoyance seem to have more fun playing around with Mr. Baseball Head than watching the game.   While driving over 25,000 miles I have been pulled over by the authorities only once!  The Iowa Highway Patrol stopped me a couple weeks back while I was driving through the interstate surrounded by endless corn fields with my buddy and pastor, Pat Kenney. Much to my surprise he had spotted me not wearing my seat belt.  When I explained it was because the belt was still a bit tight because of my weight, he asked to see my medical note of excuse.  I told him your
looking at it!  Puzzled at my response he asked more details and when I explained what I was doing he asked me to step out of my car and get into his!  While in his car he asked me all kinds of specific questions and seemed to have a hard time believing me which I found sort of peculiar.  He then asked me to wait while he went and talked to Pat.  Pat by the way is one of the Chaplains for the Escondido Police Department and has a badge which I requested he show while I was being interrogated.  Turns out that my story was unique enough that he wanted to question us independently and make sure that we were not a pair of freaks terrorizing America from an RV.  It all checked out and after feeling a bit violated by such treatment he let us go and we were on our way.

The last couple of weeks I have been blessed to have my youngest companion on the trip, Mike Grant who is 15.  He and I have been buddies for a while and we had been looking forward to these 2 weeks for a long time.  He flew into Chicago just 2 days after Pat flew back home.  We were  blessed to receive very generous hospitality from Haris and Maria Macris despite the fact that they had a baby right in the middle of our visit.  They redefined the meaning of hospitality.  Their new son Costas Elias Macris had to be delivered by a C-section as he tipped the scales at just under 11 pounds!!!  We were blessed to actually be able to help out with watching their other 2 precious kids a bit and doing what we could to make mommy's and newborn's homecoming as comfie as possible.  Chicago just happened to be a town where I guess I know quite a few folk.  Was excited to reunite with Joe and Audrey Sinisi, Panayot Bonev, Dr. Art Jones, Steve Manzouranis and his children, and Dr. Lorenzo Munoz who use to work at our clinic in Escondido.  Lots of familiar and loving friends to catch up with and break figurative bread with.  It was a town where I felt right at home.  And Mike sure enjoyed the deep pan Chicago pizzas and Italian beefs.  I enjoyed how great the food looked and committed much foodography (made that word up and it means "lusting after food").

Perhaps one of the most intense experiences of the trip occurred the last day of my visit in Chicago while at a ball game at the legendary Wrigley Field.  There is something so special about that park situated right in the middle of a neighborhood, not a single advertisement sign in the whole place, with the famous ivy covered brick walls of the mystical outfield.  That afternoon the poor Cubbies were getting pounded by the visiting Rockies by the score of  14-5.  The only redeeming thing to be excited about for the local fans was that their hero Sammy Sosa had hit three solo home runs that day.  It was a very hot and humid day in the high 90's and though I always like to stay till the end of the game, my mind was starting to ponder leaving early.  Mike and I had a 7 hour drive ahead of us that evening to Pittsburgh and in the heat of the afternoon sun my brain and body were soaked and cooking.  Right in the midst of those blah, hot, lazy summertime  thoughts, a sudden piercing scream cut the air from behind me.  I looked back and to my dismay an elderly woman was arched back in her seat pale and lifeless!  Her daughter screaming in hysterics created a panicked situation that was not the kind of thing myself or anyone around was able to grasp for that frozen moment of shock and dismay.  Thankfully, instinct kicked in for me instantly as I crawled over 2 rows of seats and spectators  to reach her only to find her body with no pulse and not breathing!  Wow! A full cardiac arrest right in the middle of a ball game.  As I yelled to clear out the area and for some capable help at the same time, I determined it was necessary to start CPR.  With the help of a nurse who came to help we lowered the woman to the ground right between the seats and after again both confirming the lack of vital signs, I decided that we start to perform CPR.  There was something so surreal about barking out instructions and the cadence of my compressions to coordinate with the nurse providing the breaths while the game played on.  The clueless usher was trying to tell me we had to take her outside immediately until I yelled "the woman is dead and is not going anywhere until the paramedics arrive!"  After three full minutes of CPR when I again stopped to check for a pulse, much to my amazement there was a pulse and the woman came to, slowly opening her eyes claiming that she was thirsty.  She almost drank my tears of joy as I in utter disbelief stared at her unable to even speak at that moment.  Just then the paramedic team and team physician arrived at the scene and took over from there.  As I got up from my knees and stumbled back to my seat I received a generous applause from a crowd still in shock about what had just happened.  In characteristic baseball expressions of appreciation I had several offers of "hey doc can I buy you a beer?"  I was so amused and yet so blessed to have been in the right place at the right time. The whole thing was such a potent reminder of the honor it is to be able to practice medicine and to have the skills to respond to such life and death situations.  I miss my patients.

From Chicago, Mike and I went to Pittsburgh where the Pirates are playing in the brand new PNC park.  It is an awesome ballpark and we had a great time watching the visiting Padres take two of three from the home team. It was great to see Tony Gwynn play and be honored in a special ceremony as it was his last visit there as a player.  We even got to visit  with some of the Padre executives that were seated nearby for a couple of the games.  One of the real benefits with getting help from the Padres ticket office is that most of the seats we have at these ballparks are premium seats just off the field than enhance the experience of each game.  Many of these newer ballparks are either nearly sold out or sold out for the whole season and were it not for the help of Kurt Varricchio helping with tickets in many of the cities, I would be forced to pay premium prices for not so premium seats.  While in Pittsburgh we got to visit and go down into a coal mine.  Amazing experience to see and learn of what miners historically had to contend with in the absence of some of the safety equipment and machinery available today.  The canary stories are true and would you believe rats were also cherished creatures that were also used to help them be aware of when the air conditions were deteriorating in the shaft.  When the rats started heading for the exits the miners followed.

Am now in Cleveland from where Mike flies home this afternoon and my friend and collegue Dr. Don Miller flies in.  After a couple more days here its off to Detroit and then Cincinnati where Jeff Frank a columnist from the North County Times will meet me.  From there I join up with family again going to Virginia to visit my Gramps and Uncle Ray and Aunt Karen and my cousins Darren and Amy and their respective families.  Then I kidnap Grampa and we head up to Baltimore and Canada.  And so the journey continues.  I take nothing for granted and fully acknowledge the generous gift from God this trip is in my life.  I am so thankful to share it with a few others and have the opportunity to catch up and fellowship with family and loved ones I have had minimal contact with in the midst of a hectic life over the recent years.  Thank you so much for your interest and for taking the time to read this.  It is much appreciated.

"What is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."  James 4:14.

TO MAKE THE MOST OF TODAY, KEEP ETERNITY IN MIND.

Striving to be half the man I once was,

dr. Nick

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